Men’s Mental Health – The Hidden Killer

Man sitting with his hand on his shoulder

Last year 4,912 people took their lives.

3,682 of these people were men.

We see, hear and read about mental health awareness constantly, but statistics such as the ones above really hit home. Suicide is a hidden killer. According to, men are 3 times more likely to take their own lives when compared to women.

Whilst women have statistically higher rates of suicide attempts compared to men, by a ratio of 1.2:1, trends show that the highest age range of completed suicide is for men aged between 45-59.

What brings a person towards completing or attempting to complete suicide?

The Adult MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) England training manual draws attention to a number of factors that drive individuals towards completing suicide. The most important aspect about this hidden killer is that, most suicidal people do not want to die; they just don’t want to live with the pain they experience any longer.

Known factors that can contribute towards a person feeling they need to take their life include mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and personality disorders. These conditions can lead to feelings of worthlessness, and lack of perceived control. Sufferers feel that suicide, i.e. not living, is a preferable option to continuing to live in the way that they have been doing over the preceding weeks, months or years

But why is the men’s rate of suicide is significantly higher than women’s? This could be centred around stereotypes that society forces upon men. The typical and dated view of men is that they are the strong providers for the family. That men do not show any emotions, and are often dismissed when showing any alleged weaknesses, such as opening up about their feelings.

Other theories on why more men complete suicide compared to women are related to the changing role of women within society. With rapid advances in gender equality, women now have more rights and the chance to develop successful careers. Some people argue that men could be struggling with this shift in the social landscape – that women no longer need men to provide for them. Such a radical change can result in a loss of identity for some men, which in turn creates feelings of self-doubt. They perceive themselves as unable to protect their families in line with very ingrained and long-standing traditional family constructs.

Regardless of these factors, too many men are still left to feel alone and isolated with their emotions. There remains a fear of reaching out to experienced professionals, as stigma of suffering from mental health issues adds further pressure.

All individuals who have fear that their cry for help will be rejected. They feel ashamed to open up to friends, family or workplaces, resulting in a reluctance to seek help. Therefore, greater community awareness to combat the stigma of mental ill health, and specifically men’s mental health, MUST be utilised.

Become part of this change. Together we can end stigma.

Please look at these useful links if you, or a loved one, is struggling with mental ill health and suicidal thoughts: